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Animal Testing: Bunnies, Monkeys Used to Develop Digital Imaging Technologies

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A mildly peeved-looking rabbit known as The Stanford Bunny (pictured above, in various incarnations) is a widely used test model for graphics research. Other popular test images include those of a monkey face, a grizzly bear sunning himself on a rock, a teapot, and 1973 Playboy Playmate Lena Sjooblom. The lot of them have long fascinated New York artist Kevin Zucker and are the subject of his recent guest essay on Paddy Johnson‘s blog, Art Fag City. Zucker focuses on 20 archetypal images that he describes as “representative highlights that I think epitomize the inscrutability, banality, anachronism, and the straightforwardly artless presentation that characterize most of the collection. Those qualities, contrasted with the weird aura possessed by these analog ‘originals’ of digital representation, make for the unsteady balance of gravity and absurdity that first got me interested in collecting them.” This is an unsettling coffee table waiting to happen. As for that iconic rabbit, Zucker reveals its origins. “Greg Turk, who 3D-scanned the Stanford Bunny in 1994, bought it from a local Palo Alto home and garden supply store because the terra cotta material was ‘red and diffuse’ and its geometry was not particularly complex.”

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